As I stated in my last post on leadership, to be an effective leader you need to establish credibility. This is true in any situation whether the leader is a supervisor, working with peers, or the general public. Many successful techniques used by effective leaders appear to be common sense. What makes them uncommon is their application consistently on a daily basis.
In my experience, one of the successful ways to establish my credibility as a leader was to encourage employees and coworkers to think like leaders themselves when problem solving. I would attempt to give people the necessary skills, information sources, opportunities, and then enable them to follow through on their own solutions.
Avoid relying on your administrative authority and certifications to be all that is needed to establish your credibility. Talking about your expertise and accomplishments without exemplarity actions are weak foundations of reliability to influence others. Show your abilities through example and work. People react more positively to a person who pitches in to help get obtain a goal then one who tells others how to do it. Guiding a person toward a goal has a more positive impact on their achievement and confidence then you directing them to do it your way.
As a college professor told me years ago, it is more important to know where to find the answers then to know the answers themselves. As an example; the sources of those answers may be in the other people you work with. Learn to identify individuals’ strengths and go to them to find answers in those subject areas. It may not be the best policy to always have a quick answer to every situation. Ask yourself, “How many people like to be around a know it all?” You may also have heard others say that they do not like going to someone with questions because they always have an answer. Involving others by asking questions in search of answers creates an atmosphere of inclusiveness and builds toward your credibility with others.
In day to day operations it is better to find the right answer to a question or problem then to go with the thought on the top of your head. Unless the issue at hand is one you have dealt with directly and have a thorough knowledge of, it is never a mistake to say you will look into it and get back with an answer. This technique is important when dealing with the general public and can prevent the spreading of misinformation or confusion. It is sometimes even helpful to tell others where they can find their own answer to a question or issue. Such empowerment creates good followers, develops future leaders, and garners support for your organization.
More later –